Exciting new plants to look for at the garden centre this year
Keep an eye out for these fresh foliage, flower and vegetable picks for your in-ground gardens and containers!
As the days warm up and the trees reveal their lush new leaves, you might be dusting off your gardening gloves and tools, amending your flower beds with compost, taking your pots out of winter storage and stocking up on fresh potting soil. You're ready to browse the plant sections of the garden centre!
When you're shopping for planting season, don't be afraid to think outside traditional garden planning. If you don't have room for a whole veggie garden, for example, think about planting patio varieties in containers, or sneak in a tomato plant among the perennials in your front yard garden and protect it with an ornamental cage. You could also add herbs and salad greens in with your potted annual flowers. There are endless possibilities and configurations, no matter what size your outdoor space is.
In past seasons, I've written about the interesting and beautiful new foliage, flowering plants, and fruit, vegetable and herb varieties to look for. Here are a few new plants to check out at the garden centre this year, beginning with the ones that will reap a harvest this summer.
Star Roses and Plants offers a range of easy-care, self-pollinating berry plants, from strawberries you can grow in hanging baskets to thornless dwarf blackberries. All of their berry plants can be slotted into that edible and ornamental category, but BerryBux is perhaps the most obvious ornamental addition because it looks like a boxwood hedge but also produces blueberries.
The GherKing variety of cucumbers from PanAmerican Seed produces tons of cukes on fast-growing vines for all your pickling projects. Try trellising your cucumbers, even if they're growing in pots, to keep the precious fruit off the ground.
Baby oakleaf lettuce
According to the National Garden Bureau, a U.S. nonprofit dedicated to home gardener education, 2022 is the Year of the Salad Greens. Lettuce is an easy-to-sow crop that can be planted in both pots and gardens. You don't even need a very deep container to grow your own lush heads of lettuce. This variety matures quickly into "bouquets" of leaves.
Last year, I grew a variety of peppers including tomatillos, jalapeños and poblano peppers. My alteño peppers, a poblano variety, grew to the perfect size for roasting. Another harvest resulted in stuffed peppers on the barbecue. The flavour of alteños is pretty mild; according to some estimates, they only measure between 250 to 1,500 on the Scoville scale.
Marmalade Dream rose
In the past few years, breeders have introduced some fabulous roses that can withstand our harsh Canadian winters and have greater disease resistance. Marmalade Dream was developed in Manitoba by Charles Pilgrim, and is hardy to about zone 3 or 4. Its flowers have a gorgeous peachy-orange hue with hints of yellow in the centre.
Back in Black sedum hybrid
Choosing drought-tolerant perennials can help save water, as they just need watering until they're established in the garden. Pair this black sedum from Proven Winners's Rock 'N Grow collection with something lime green or another equally striking colour in the garden — it provides the perfect backdrop. This plant is also hardy to zone 3, and later in the season, it'll grow tiny, pink flowers with red centres that will attract pollinators.
If you're looking for superstar foliage, coleus plants come in a wide range of colours and patterns. The Spitfire variety from Ball FloraPlant, which can handle both full sun or shade, has a striking magenta and green pattern. It's a stunner that will look great in a pot among other blooms, but it doesn't need a companion to stand out.
Lavandula stoechas Primavera
Unlike English lavender, which is hardy to our Canadian winters, Spanish lavender won't survive the winter outdoors. Lavandula stoechas Primavera, a type of Spanish lavender bred by Darwin Perennials, falls into the latter category as well, but it's a beautiful addition to pots and the flowers in the warmer months. Its "flags" that stand up above the flowers also attract pollinators.
Bee's Knees petunia
Petunias are dependable bedding and hanging-basket plants that you can find at any nursery, but over the last few years, breeders have introduced some gorgeous new varieties. This one from Ball FloraPlant was chosen as a 2022 All-America Selections Winner, making it the first petunia to win a gold medal since 1950. It blooms throughout the entire summer to the first frost and is heat tolerant.
MegaBoom Passion Fruit dahlia
I'm a sucker for dahlias in pots. They make a great "thriller," but in many cases, they could be the only plant in the container and still shine. The ombre blooms of the MegaBoom Passion Fruit dahlia, a new variety from Dümmen Orange, are yellow in the centre and peachy pink at their tips.
One Last Dance hosta
When planting in the shade, you'll want to go with varieties that don't fade into the background of your garden. Walters Gardens's One Last Dance hosta has variegated leaves that are a yellowy green on the outside with splashes of darker green on the inside. The edges are also a bit ruffled, making this hosta stand out even more.
Black Forest Cake heuchera
The foliage of this heuchera from Terra Nova Nurseries is a rich chocolate brown, reminiscent of indulgent Black Forest cake, while its long stems of flowers are a bright red hue — the cherry on top! It works in both a container arrangement or in the garden, and it likes full sun to part shade.
Tara Nolan is the author of Gardening Your Front Yard and Raised Bed Revolution. She is also one-third of the popular gardening website Savvy Gardening.